Biography of Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar's history is believed to have begun around 102 or 100 BC. He was born and brought up in a family considered to have been founded by Aeneas. Caesar was tall, fair haired, well-built, and of sound health although it is asserted that he occasionally suffered from an epileptic disease. His father was working as a praetor and died when Caesar was 16 years of age. The future conqueror was raised by his mother Aurelia together with his two sisters during a period when Rome was experiencing chaotic upheavals brought about by the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire. It is believed that the first 20 years of Caesar's life were typified by rivalries between the Senate and the assembly. It is worthy to note that during this period, the electorate system of Rome was also corrupt (Yavetz, 1989).

The return of Consul Sulla to Rome in 83 BC after fighting abroad triggered Caesar's fear; hence, he began campaigns demanding to get rid of all his enemies. Several thousands of senators and other officials were murdered, and then the Senate had to declare Sulla the dictator for life (Nardo, 2002). At the age of 17, Julius Caesar married Cornelia, the daughter of a prominent member of the popular faction. She bore him his only legitimate child, a daughter by the name of Julia. His happiness did not last for long though; the dictator demanded Caesar to divorce her. Caesar, however, defied the order, showing the headstrong nature that would chart his future course (Michael, 1996). He was going to be banished and all his treasury to be taken away and losing the title of flamens Dialis - a priest of Jupiter. To escape the wrath of Sulla, the discouraged Caesar went to the East and joined the army staff of Minurius Thermas, the praetor in Bithynia in 81 BC. He proved to be a superb soldier and fought in many battles. He even got a laurel wreath Korana vita for valor. In spite of the inadequacy of his sources, Caesar seemed to have chosen a political career as a matter of course. In the beginning, it is true that he privately aimed at winning office, not just for the sake of honors, but in order to achieve the power to put the misgoverned Roman State and Greco-Roman world into better order in accordance with ideas of his own (Richardson, 1992).

Following the death of Sulla in 79 BC, Caesar returned to Rome to start his political carrier in the convectional way, by acting as a prosecuting advocate in his case against Sulla's counter revolutionaries; however, this move did not earn him any positive feedback. He did not become famous nor did he get any bigger chances of being chosen for an office. After this failure, he set out for Rhodes in 78 BC where he was kidnapped in his trip by the pirates who released him after a period of 40 days having paid the ransom (Berger, 1997). He then returned to Mellitus and quickly organized a naval force to strike war against the rulers, which he victoriously won and had his captors crucified. He later came back to Rome in 68 BC to attend his daughter's funeral, Julia, which he used to propagate his political reasons. In this, he encountered his wife's opposition, but being a brave man, he did not pay any attention to it, and after a short while, his wife died in the same year. During this time he traveled the whole empire trying to start a revolution, but due to the little influence he had at the moment, it again failed. He sought to return to Rome where he was engaged with Pompiea and married her after a short while. Pompiea was a distant relative of Pompey, and this was seen as a political marriage, which allowed Caesar to become Pompey's close associate (Matthias, 1988).

In 61 BC, Caesar was made the governor of Spain after Crassus helped him by paying his creditors after some financial issues. In Spain, he used his military influence to help him further restore his financial security. He outwitted his political enemies by passing up his triumph; this he did in order to win the elections to the Consulate with the support of Pompey and Crassus. During that time, Crassus was the richest man in Rome; therefore, he had great influence in government affairs. Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar formed what was known as the first triumvirate, meaning a government of three men in the period 60-65 BC. This action was taken to further their future political success. As the triumvirate ruled, the Senate became angered, which led to the break-up of the Senate. This gave the triumvirate more power (Osgood, 2006).

Caesar's military was headquartered in the valley of the lower Rhone, which had been Roman from 123 onwards, but his legions were in the Eastern part of his province. In March 58 BC, Caesar destroyed the bridge at Geneva and blocked the road along Rhone, which served to slow down the advancement of the Helvetian. This, however, gave Caesar sufficient time to lead his army across the Alps and to recruit two extra legions (11 and 12). The Helvetians opted to leave their country in the neighborhood of modern Basel, but when they wanted to cross the Saone in July, Caesar together with his army had been organized and was ready to defeat them. Indeed, he defeated them in August in the neighborhood of the capital of the Aedui and Bibracte (Osgood, 2006).

Having emerged victorious in this war, some Gauls asked Caesar to help them punish back the Suebians, which was a Germanic tribe that had crossed the Rhine and settled in the Alsace. Caesar being a man of valor fought and again won this battle that took place in September in the neighborhood of modern Colmar, and winter quarters were built near the battle field in modern Besancon (Osgood, 2006). Caesar was to take his army back to the South, but he let them stay at Besancon for deliberate provocation. He changed his mind and wanted to conquer all of Gaul. After his successful annexation, it seemed easy for him, and he was not blind to trade which made him to acquire more wealth.

The Gallic tribes, having known the danger of this fearless man during winter, formed an anti-Roman coalition, which was exactly what Caesar needed in order to exploit the situation at the moment. He received an extra excuse to conquer all states in Gaul. Additionally, in the spring of 57 BC, he raised two legions, 13 and 14, and together with other troops, he surprised the Belgian nation of Remi. His presence prevented Remi from taking part in the Belgian attack on the Romans, and instead, they even sided with Caesar to fight against his enemies.

In this preventive war, it was Caesar's propaganda to spend winter in Cisalpine Gaul, having an eye on the city of Rome and giving instructions to Piso. He wrote the first part of his commentary on the war in Gaul, which had two purposes. First, he could boast about his success, and second, he could explain why he had to attack the rest of Gaul. He was successful, and no Roman ever asked if it was really necessary to conquer this vast territory. Caesar received the governorship of Lilyricum, Cisalphine Gail, and Transalpine Gaul. In addition, he was also given control over a large army that he used to rule over Gaul, which made him gain a lot of political strength for the Gallic wars that lasted from 58 to 51 BC. While Caesar spent most of his time in the North, Pompey usurped most of his power by establishing a good relationship with the Senate. It is believed that the Gallic wars were not Caesar's most famous wars; the wars with Pompey were probably those (Yavetz, 1989).

Despite the fact that Caesar's daughter was married to Pompey, there arouse friction between the two. This friction was exacerbated by Crassus. Following death of Julius Caesar's daughter and Crassus in 54 and 53 BC respectively, the relationship between Caesar and Pompey did not last for long as it had been vindicated earlier. In 52 BC, Pompey was made sole consul following that event. In 50 BC, Pompey joined with Caesar's political enemies and ordered Caesar to disassemble his army. It forced Caesar to cross the Rubicon River into Italy and fought against Pompey. This started another civil war in Rome. In many battles that were fought, Caesar defeated Pompey, which made the latter flee to the east. This enabled Caesar to secure Spain and then fought Pompey in Greece, defeating him at Pharsalus. However, Pompey escaped with some of his soldiers to Egypt, but Caesar followed them and waged war in the foreign land. Pompey was eventually murdered upon arrival by the Egyptian government (Naphtali, 1999).

During Caesar's hot pursuit of Pompey, he is said to have arrived in Alexandria only to get entangled in successive quarrels to the throne of the Egyptian monarchy. Caesar was asked to help settle the dispute, but he found himself attacked by the Egyptian's royal troops, compelling him to seek out for help. The few troops he had with him barricaded the whole streets and held off their opponents in street fighting. The Pompeans still controlling the sea by their fleets made it too impossible for Rome to send help. It was an independent expedition of wealthy citizens from Pergamum and the Judea government that helped Caesar to end the Alexandrian War (Naphtali, 1999).

Having spent the first months of 47 BC in Egypt, Caesar went to the Middle East where he annihilated King Pharnaces II of Pontus in the Battle of Zeal; his victory was so swift and so complete that he commemorated it. He proceeded to Africa to deal with the remnants of Pompey's secretarial supporters and quickly gained a significant victory at Thasus in 46 BC over the force of Mellitus Scipio who was killed in the battle, and Cato the younger committed suicide (Naphtali, 1999). Nevertheless, Pompey's son Gnaeus Pompeuis and Sextus Pompeius together with Titus Labienus formed propraetorian legate, and the second-in-command in the Gallic War escaped to Spain. As they took off, Caesar followed them and defeated the last remnant of opposition at Munda in a fiercely contested battle in 45 BC. During this time, Caesar was elected to his third and fourth terms as consul in 46 BC (Issac, 1992).

After the Battle of Pharsalus, Cote and Scipio escaped to Libya where with the help of King Juba they formed a considerable force. Caesar decided to make an expedition against them and crossed over to Sicily during the time of winter solstice. He pitched his own tent on the beach, wishing to make it clear immediately to his officers that they need no hopes of wasting time by staying on the island. As soon as the wind blew from the right quarter, he embarked with 3,000 infantry and few cavalries. He landed his army without being noticed and then set to sea again; as he was anxious about the large part of his army, he got them already at the sea and brought them all into camp (Cerutti, 1994).

Caesar is believed to have made many campaigns in which he won victories all over the Roman Empire. In one of these victories he used the famous words veni, vedi, vici meaning "I came, I saw, I conquered". Back in Rome, Caesar gained complete control of the Roman government, which earned him political honors (Berger, 1997). In 49 BC, he was appointed dictator, and eventually, he became a dictator for life. Furthermore, he was also elected sole consul in 48 BC, and from 47 to 46 BC, he was made tribunician sancrosanctily mainly because of these accomplishments. He was honored by being represented on coin and many statues, and later in 45 BC, a temple was built in his honor (Richardson, 1992).

To consolidate himself in power, Caesar introduced many reforms, which included limiting the distribution of the new grain, founding citizen colonies, introducing the Julian calendar, and enlarging the Senate. At the same time, he reduced the debts, changed the taxes, and late non-Italians became Roman citizens. He also met the common people's needs, which strengthened his control of the state (Blits, 1993).

It is without a doubt that by the passing of the Roman Republic into that of an imperial system, the nature of Roman religion expanded again to include the emperors themselves. Caesar, having claimed to be a direct descendant of Aeneas, the son of Venus, was among the first to defy in such a manner. The system of human divinity was largely rejected by the masses; however, the popularity of Caesar helped pave the way for future leaders (Osgood, 2006).

Julius Caesar was instrumental in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire; his conquest of Gallia comate extended the Roman world all over the Atlantic Ocean, introducing Roman influence into what became modern France, an accomplishment of which direct consequences are visible up to the present. He launched the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC and won a civil war which left him the undisputed master of the Roman world. He also began extensive reforms of Roman society and government (Naphtali, 1999).

Furthermore, Julius Caesar instituted the 12-month calendar, also a 365-day calendar, which provided the foundation for the Gregorian calendar. This was later adopted by the pope and is used up to present days. In addition, he granted religious rights to the Jews in Palestine. With this, the Jewish religion was practiced outside the requirement of the Roman religious law. This promoted the practice of an uneasy faith of the Jews, which continued through the Roman Empire up to the time of Jesus Christ (Bloom & Golding, 1988).

The influence of Julius Caesar on the Western civilization was as a politician, orator, author, and later a dictator. He continues to enliven historical discussions with his tremendous military conquests, his affair with Cleopatra in Egypt, and his immortal line veni, vidi, vici (Yavetz, 1989). His assassination at the hands of his once-loyal friends and supporters inspired both Shakespearean tragedy as well as 500 more domination by the Roman Empire. His accomplishment cannot be diminished by those of all others that lived in his time.

Moreover, the conquest of the great soldier and statesman Julius Caesar provided security for the Roman Empire for more than 500 years and spread Roman laws, customs, and language throughout Europe. So far-reaching were his accomplishments that his name became the title accorded to Roman emperors as well as for leaders for centuries. Even the German kaisar and the Russian czar are both derivatives of Caesar (Michael, 1996).

With the death of Caesar, Rome's civilization experienced a domino effect due to the contributions he had made during his life and the chaos that occurred after his death. His military eminence and political greatness made Rome prosper into the greatest civilization in history. With the violent way of his leadership, his death was regarded as the end of the Roman civilization. The monarchy formed by Octavian proved to be successful for a short time but lost steam. The inevitable happened - the fall of the Roman. Leaders after Octavian held overwhelming control of power that they could sustain thus abusing it for their own enjoyment. However, with the lasting impact of Julius Caesar, many leaders of today still follow his path of prosperity throughout their own lives (Amandry, Burnett, & Ripoll's, 1998).

References

Amandry, M., Burnett, A., & Ripoll's, P. R. (1998). Roman Provincial Coinage from the Death of Caesar to the Death of Vitellius. British Museum Press.

Berger, H. (1997). Making Trifles of Terrors: Redistributing Complicities in Shakespeare. Stanford: Stanford UP.

Bloom, H., & Golding, W. (1988). Modern critical interpretations: New York: Julius Caesar.

Cerutti, S. (1994). American Journal of Numismatics 5-6. New York: Chelsea House.

Issac, B. (1992). The Limits of Empire, the Roman Army in the East. Oxford: Oxford University.

Matthias, G. (1988). Julius Caesar Politician and Statesman. Cambridge: Harvard University.

Michael, G. (1996). Julius Caesar biography. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Naphtali, L. (1999). Life in Egypt under Roman rule. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Nardo, D. (2002). The rise of Julius Caesar in Rome. San Diego: Green Haven Press.

Osgood, J. (2006). Caesar's Legacy Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire. New York: Mc Graw-Hill.

Richardson, L. (1992). New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yavetz, Z. (1989). Julius Caesar and His Public Image. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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